Blog on Blogging

powerquote_nMy blog is two years old this week and I’m still a happy writer. The subscriber base is at 250. While that readership isn’t what I hoped for, it is definitely more than I expected.  I love the instant gratification of blogging. On the other hand…

I have always been impatient. Being in a hurry runs in my family, so I suppose it is in my DNA. Or maybe we were just birds in a flurry who flocked together and called ourselves the Whitaker-Claypool species.

All I can tell you is that nothing I do is ever enough at the same time I’ve always enjoyed every job I ever had. I find work fascinating. When I followed my bliss it turned out to be more work.

In my lifetime, I’ve had excellent jobs in fashion sales, teaching, folk-art shopkeeping, real estate, writing and the ministry. Work was always a source of enjoyment for me and probably will always be. I am especially happy writing my blog although I’d hoped to sell more of my books off the blog bookstore than I have so far. My plan was that if readers liked my for-free blogs, they’d love my for-sale books. Ah well, the best laid plans of mice and writers.

So far, my business plan hasn’t exactly worked. But, it really isn’t about the money. It’s about connection – connection to God, to you, and to myself. Work is about expressing my God-given nature – Love. Every job I’ve ever had was of use to others or I had to move on. I could not imagine only helping myself.

Retirement frightened me. When I moved into the Minister Emeritus position at church, I wasn’t well. Actually, I was very ill and I got better. I taught a few classes and spoke some but I still had a lot of free time and it scared me. Does free time frighten you?

In the beginning of my semi-retirement, I read a lot of silly novels and watched a lot of silly movies. That was fun but then it wasn’t so much fun anymore. I wanted to be useful again.

I did start a book on Spiritual Practice and, once again, I was impatient. The project seemed like a big commitment, and I was busy helping other people write their books. (My Spiritual Practice book really is almost finished and I’m telling myself not to be impatient.) Books are not short adventures – they are a serious undertakings.

In contrast, blogs are pure fun. My blog has been well received. After a bit of practice, I can write and publish a blog in four to six hours. That’s a good day’s work for a retired person.

I know there are more readers than those listed as subscribers. I get nice comments and people they tell me they enjoy the essays. At our recent CSL Conference at Asilomar, several people I didn’t know complimented my blog. Recently, a few ministers asked me questions about writing a blog of their own. I definitely encouraged them.

I believe everyone can enjoy blogging. It is a chance to help others and learn more about yourself. It is useful. The time involved and the subject matter are optional. I am fussy and I write long  posts. Many people write only a few daily lines.  Nearly all of us have used journaling as a self-discovery tool.  A blog is only a couple of steps away from journaling. Blogs can also be a spiritual practice.

One difference stands out. Your journal is personal while a blog is intended for others to read. The writer must offer something that amuses, inspires, instructs, or connects with his readers. That said, no topic is for everyone but there is someone for every topic.

Are you interested in writing a blog? The first step is to imagine what your might like to write about and who you think your audience may be. Freedom to write whatever I wanted was important to me. I decided I could include memories and opinions about political and social issues as well as spiritual principles. I would aim for twice a week but give myself permission to skip once in a while.

Blogging  is a great if you have something unique to say. Whoever you are, no matter what you know, you must plan before you begin. This stage will be short for some  and take a long time for others but it must be done.

Your chosen topic should also be something that will hold your interest and something you know about. Simply musing about the good old days will bore your readers unless you are as clever as Andy Rooney. I do write about them sometimes, but I attempt to make the old days relevant to my reader’s current life.

Whether you are interested in blogging or not, you might enjoy perusing other blogs on the internet. Individual blogs have “tags” so you can run searches easily. Keep your searches current and subscribe to the ones you enjoy.  I subscribe to several blogs about books and history. What topics would you like to explore?

If you are personally interested in blogging ask yourself what topics you know about. Why not spend  time for a few days making list of subjects  you know about as a part of your spiritual practice?

Topics for blogs are fascinating but they don’t have to be rocket science. There are blogs on cooking cassarole dishes, grammer, Greek history, raising triplets, aiding the elderly and losing weight, and thousands of other subjects.

Blog subjects are so creative they amaze us. One writer wrote a blog for my local paper about living on the State’s food subsidy money. There was a movie about Julia Child and a young woman who set out to cook every recipe in Child’s cookbook. It was based on her blog.

What do you know about?  It will be a great spiritual practice for improving your self -esteem to list topics. You will be surprised how many activities and interests you are proficient in when you do this.

Before you begin to actually write your blog, learn from every writing class I’ve ever taken by imagining your ideal reader. Who is she?  What do you know that she doesn’t? That’s a great way to find your  topics for posts.

The next writing lesson I can pass on is to ask yourself what you enjoy reading . That may give you a clue about what you should write.  F/Y/I  I read two spiritual blogs every day and although my blogs don’t resemble them, they inspire me. These blogs are from Dr. Carol Carnes and Dr. Maxine Kaye. You can access them by going to ccinlove@aol.com and drmaxinekaye@constantconnections.com .

Just for fun, pretend you believe you have something to say and you know you are powerful . Your pretense or   “acting as if”  will be exciting and instructive. Go through the suggested blog planning steps and see what happens.

Ask Yourself

Do I journal now?

Would I like to blog?

What blogs do I read?

What do I know about?

Who would like to read about my knowledge?

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Wise People Seek Success

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Jane is 15 years old and a winner in the Los Angeles City Schools Speech Contest. Now she’s on stage, competing at the Southern California level. The judges are so sure she’ll win they told her to bring a packed bag to fly directly to Sacramento for the finals.

Her bag isn’t packed because she’s learned,“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatch.”

She is doing a great job speaking until she looks out at the audience and sees her boyfriend who is a college speech major. Her mother and sister are also in front, looking anxious and worried.        

She goes blank! The last paragraph disappears completely from her mind. She says, “I’ve forgotten,” and walks off the stage. Later, one judge tells her she would have won anyway if she’d just walked away and said nothing.

Everyone is very nice to her. Her mother is sweet and her boyfriend takes her out for ice cream. She doesn’t speak publically for many, many years.

Fear of success is a common phenomenon. It is learned early, and many of us retain it all our lives. We believe we don’t deserve to win or we are not smart or talented enough. Sometimes we believe no one will love us for ourselves if we are too successful.

Many people can’t  just step forward and seek success. They approach ambition very timidly or not at all. Maybe they have ordinary jobs, but they aren’t reaching for the stars. That’s fine if they want to arrange their lives so they can do other things but it isn’t fine if they yearn for more money, acknowledgement or promotions.

Going directly after success in business, or in the creative arts may seem frightening or unobtainable. Some of us avoid trying to catch the brass ring because we don’t want to risk failure. But that is a kind of failure, isn’t it?

All work has value as long as it is life affirming. There is nothing wrong with being a gardener, housewife, carpenter, schoolteacher or junior partner in the family business. The difficulty comes when we are frustrated and resent what we are doing.

I carried that speech contest failure with me for many years as one more proof that I was no good. Usually, I blamed myself but sometimes I blamed my mother or boyfriend. Disappointment, handled incorrectly, can turn poisonous.

In order to succeed, we need to release the anger and accept responsibility for going after what we want. We may not always get everything we want in life, but we won’t get much of anything unless we identify the goal and take sensible steps in the right direction.

If you are feeling stuck or have resentment, you have some work to do. One risk – free way to begin is by private journaling. You can dream independently without allowing other people’s ideas to cloud your thinking. Just begin by jotting down your thoughts and include the things you think you might like to do. Allow yourself the freedom to dream a bit. It’s fun and not a commitment. You first step is just to loosen up.

There is no responsibility attached to this initial journaling exercise, just acknowledging your desires is enough. Many people have a very hard time saying, “I want to retire at 50” or “I want to remarry”, or “I want to be promoted to general manager of my branch.”

As you write, ask yourself what you think success looks like for you. We are unique individuals so answers will vary. Maybe you are making loads of money but have always wanted to paint. Maybe you already have the life you want but you want to believe in yourself and think you are a success, not a failure. You need to change your thinking. Your success is what you believe it is, not what others tell you.

After you have some clarity, you are ready to take steps. You can’t stand back and say, “Oh, I’m not good enough!” or “I could never do that!” You have to speak up and step out. No one can do it for you. Nor can you hang out and hope for a magical memo or a big break.

The Creative Nature of the Universe (God working as Spiritual Law) is responsive and we must be the initiator. We need to take the first step toward the goal. I believe that first step should be a consistent prayer for the desired goal.

The next step will include things that seem possible and logical. For example, if you want to be a writer you probably shouldn’t quit your day job. First, you might take writing classes then get out and meet others in the publishing business, as you prepare yourself for your new writing career.

We you take these positive steps, you show Spiritual Law that you have changed your mind about success. As your prevailing belief system changes, Spiritual Law will kick in and help you achieve your dreams.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t insist everything needs to change overnight. Notice the small positive changes and encourage and praise yourself . Take your self-discovery steps, and make minor adjustments in your beliefs and behavior. Be happy along the way. Being happy actually helps. Life does not have to be a struggle.

It is true you must do the preparation and it is also true that God will support you but there is always more to learn and work to do. Getting an MBA doesn’t guarantee a fast rise in business, you must also be ready to take responsibility for the big decisions. You must lead without blame or anger. So your spiritual practice is a necessary part of your preparation for you success as well as for maintenance.

Remember you get to decide. You don’t have to get that MBA if you don’t want to. Wearing a business suit, earning a lot of money and working long hours is not success for everyone. We are free to design our success and we are also free to modify our goals as we get new information.

Know you are in touch with Unlimited Power and Unlimited Possibility. God responds to your prevailing belief system now. Aa your spiritual practice brings you clarity and new beliefs, your life changes. It takes courage to change but it gets easier, when we know God is working for us. I never achieved the high school speaker championship because that ship had sailed. However,  I did speak successfully for many years after I discovered there was a Power for Good and I could use it.

That same Power is in your life. Take a pro-active approach and you will get the promotion or the new job or whatever you claim as success. Go for it.

Ask Yourself

1. Am I blaming anyone else for my trouble?

2. Do I believe I am a failure or success right now?

3.  What would I like to change?

4, What would  I want my increased success to look like?

(Note this post is adapted from my book, Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues)It is available from the blog bookstore.


Releasing Ambition

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My blog readership is growing. That’s good! I have a goal I know I will reach because I am writing in integrity, love and joy. However, I sometimes think of “get popular quick schemes” and that means I’m pushing the river again. Addiction happens in peculiar ways!

No matter how much one loves a project, the joy will disappear when racing to an arbitrary goal becomes more important than the process itself. The whole point of this blog was to create something in freedom and offer it to anyone who wanted it. It is supposed to be fun.

So what does that have to do with counting numbers? I’m not working on commission or earning brownie points to get into heaven. Once again, I am reminding myself to let go and let God. I don’t ever need to struggle.

After all these years, I know myself pretty well and I  know that one part of my personality part is accustomed and addicted to struggle.  I call her “The Strider”.  She says, “Not enough” or “It should be better,” quite often. The Strider can squeeze the fun out of any project if I am not aware of her tricks.

It is easy to slip into old ways if I am not watching. I struggled to get through college. I struggled to build a writing career. I struggled with alcohol and food and in many other things when I was younger. Truth is, I can use any goal as a piece of torture equipment if I’m not careful.

I have learned a lot about addiction and I have learned to watch out for the symptoms.  Writing, for me, is particularly addictive, but I need to remember that I undertook this blog as a service to others and as a retirement hobby. In this moment, I release the need to count readers and I simply return to writing for fun. I don’t have to prove anything.

I am not alone. Work addiction of one sort or another happens to wonderful people. It sneaks up on you, even in your retirement years. In fact, so many ministers “fail retirement” that is kind of a joke.

Addictive personalities will push themselves at work, at home, on the road or in the studio. I have a good friend who was practicing yoga at age 65. She was a marvel. She could do so much, so easily, that she constantly amazed us all. We were all proud of her and she never seemed to show off or be ego driven about her expertise. She did, however, really want to stand on her head. We prayed for that in church. When she got so she could do that well, she upped the ante and wanted to stand on her head longer.  One day her guru advised her, “Take the ambition out of your practice.”

When she shared that story with me, I thought, “I should take that advice myself.” Of course,  I failed exercise class in the 7th grade and it didn’t bother me. I can’t bend over too well and I certainly don’t plan to stand on my head ever – at least in this lifetime. However, I do try to remember and take her teacher’s excellent advice. I do not want to be a slave to ambition. Do you?

We all know people who seem to be in a frenzy about how they are using their time and what they are or are not accomplishing. The idea of living in a frenzy doesn’t appeal to me. Does it appeal to you? Does the idea of taking the ambition out of your pursuits appeal to you? Sounds good to me.

Of course, ambition can be fine as long as we are making decisions that create a healthy, well-balanced life. But if you feel as though you are struggling to get it all done, you may want to make changes. One of the greatest gifts of our Religious Science teaching is knowing we always have a choice.

The question of how hard to work is one that touches all of us at some time or another. In our youth, our ambition may get us where we think we want to go but if we don’t balance it with loving connections to others, we become unhappy and distorted.

In our middle years, ambition takes many forms including working hard to persuade others, to train our children into our beliefs and to forge ahead in the workplace. Again, we get out of balance if we don’t take care of our bodies and our spiritual lives.

Retirement years are the biggest temptation for many of us. We have choices about how to spend our time and can very well end up staying so busy we neglect our spiritual practice and our bodies and minds. Inaction leads to disuse. Too much action leads to fatigue.

Throughout our lives, we face many questions about our goals and exactly how ambitious we should be. Should I persevere? Should I delay gratification until I get my goal? Should I pile up more money for the future? Should I keep exercising until I “feel the burn”? Should I stay in the marriage and find some way to make it work?

When you look at life’s big questions in the framework of whether or not to live for today or tomorrow, it seems as though life really is an art or dance. We each have to find our own balance. We have to make our own decisions. We have to decide how much energy to put into this or that project.

I talk to people all the time who are in a quandary about how to spend their time and money. I try to help them see they are always at choice, one way or another. There is always something we can choose to do and since balance is constant movement, there is always a need for adjustment.

Making new choices is easier than it looks. We can choose whatever is the apparent step in this moment to move us in the direction of our dreams and let God do the rest. We don’t need to torture ourselves with the past or try to control the future. We just move ahead a step at a time and enjoy life. We can feel good about what we are doing because God is good all the time.

When I get out of balance and start rushing, I remind myself to release the ambition and enjoy the process. The future will take care of itself. I have learned to envision a goal and believe in it and then give it to God to do the work. It is not necessary to struggle or worry about making it happen.

As of now, I am back in balance. This day I am simply writing what I know and sending it out with love. I know the perfect right readers will find it.

Ask Yourself

Am I struggling to make something happen?

Do I need a new balance?

What immediate choice am I able to make?

Do I want to release the ambition?


Glad and Gladder

According to the pundits, my candidate didn’t do as well as his opponent during the first TV debate. I was distressed until I decided to play the Glad Game. Now I am encouraged because we will work harder on the election. Pollyanna taught me to trust.

Trust took me a while to learn. But trust and gratitude were two qualities I had to embrace in order to stay sober. It wasn’t quite as simple as Pollyanna made it seem.

When I first got sober, my sponsor wanted me to see the bright side, stay on the sunny side of the street and look for the silver lining. If nothing else, he thought I should be grateful I was sober. I was miserable because I thought I had to repair my life immediately. How could I be happy when my life was a disaster?

Even worse – when he brought up the subject of gratitude, I felt like a naughty 12 year old. That was my age when my mother bought me the book Pollyana because she thought I was a grumpy brat.

In case you don’t know the story, Pollyanna is a poor little orphan who knows the secret of happiness. She’s the daughter of deceased missionaries and comes to a small town in middle America back in the late 1900’s. She converts the whole town to New Thought only she calls it teaching everyone the glad game.

Pollyanna (and my sponsor and my mother) all agreed that no matter what is going on, you can always find something to be glad for. One example was the time when she wanted a doll and the missionary barrel contained a pair of crutches. Obviously, she couldn’t be glad for the crutches but, she could be glad she didn’t have to use them.

The glad game actually is the secret of joy. I started practicing it a bit late but I am now a true believer. Very early, when I balked, I was told that if I couldn’t be thankful for my current life, I should give thanks for the good that was going to come out of today’s problems.

Over the years, I’ve applied that technique to many of my own issues and also helped other people use gladness and gratitude in their lives. I have found applying gratitude in this manner has always worked. Even though I wasn’t always able to reorganize life exactly as I wanted, in retrospect, I have seen things turn out extremely well.

Sometimes playing the glad game improved outside conditions as though it was a miracle method. Sometimes the results were on the inner level. People found peace of mind, a shift in understanding or some other invisible benefit. Sometimes the desired results worked in surprising and unusual ways.

Here is a true story from AA. It is, as my mother used to say, “as funny as a crutch”.

Speaking of crutches… A speaker in a meeting was on crutches because she fell off a bar stool and broke her leg. She spoke about how very grateful she was. Seems her broken leg was the direct cause of her decision to get sober.

My second story is personal.  Once, I wanted a job on a Sunday newspaper very, very much. I was consistently writing free lance for them and they consistently hired a younger man. I was despondent, desperate and angry. Then I remembered to practice the glad game and I began to look at a wider field of opportunity. That worked so well it seemed like magic.

Thank God I didn’t get the job writing for that pokey little Sunday newspaper. Instead, I made contacts in New York and built an exciting career that landed me on the NY Times best seller list for months. I wrote 80 books for young people during the next ten years. It all happened because I decided to be glad for new opportunities.

The glad game is a great deal like affirmative prayer or spiritual mind treatment, isn’t it?  We always end our prayers by giving thanks. We thank God for the  good that is coming even before we see it. It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that our thanksgiving step in affirmative prayer is playing the glad game.

Our New Thought religion is one of joy, gladness and gratitude and we praise life. Joy is a wonderful part of our religious experience. You and I and Pollyanna all sprinkle glad game dust wherever we go.

According to Pollyanna, there are over 800 verses in the Bible that praise God and call for joy. I haven’t counted and she is stuck permanently at age twelve so I’m not absolutely certain about the number. I do know there are plenty jumping for joy verses in the good book.

The Old Testament, especially the Psalms, tells us to sing a new song; to play skillfully with a shout of joy, to jump for joy, and to generally create an uproar. We jump, we dance, we sing, we shout for joy. It’s all good!

It isn’t just Pollyanna or the Bible that teaches us how to be joyful. Tips on how to build more joy into your life come from everywhere. From Pollyanna, you’ve learned to play the glad game. Thank you, Polly dear. From the lady with the broken leg, you’ve learned to be thankful for the good that comes out of trouble. Thank you, dear lady on crutches.

There are plenty of other glad game teachers. Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity… Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Dr. Dennis Merrit Jones writes, “If we look deeply enough, we will find blessings even in things and events that on the surface we might tend to judge as negative. In the process, notice your glass is getting fuller.” Thank you dear Dr. Dennis.

The Buddhist Monk. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Give thanks, even for your non-toothache.” Do you have a roof over your head and did you have a meal today? Are there people in your life that care about you and whom you love deeply? Do you live in a country where you are free and able to practice whatever religion you choose? I’m sure you get the idea.” Thank you dear Tich Nhat Han.

The glad game is all about changing our thinking so we make room for joy and happiness. It sets up the Law of Attraction and brings us more good. We remember that joy is our birthright.

You and I joyfully live in gratitude as we daily play the glad game. If we want to learn more, we start by making a list of the things we enjoy that we have at hand. We can also give thanks in advance for the things that are coming.

Adding to that gratitude list is a part of our spiritual practice and it brings great joy. The things we discover that make us happy are personal, deep and true. They may also be quite simple. We always leave room for discovery of more joy. We never let the to-do list rob us of ecstasy.

Ask Yourself

What makes me sing a joyful song?

What makes me jump for joy?

What do I choose to put on my gratitude list?

What future good am I glad for?


Blog Power

I once thought blogs were a silly idea but now I know they are powerful tools for getting messages across. Yesterday, I had two wonderful encounters based on a recent blog; it was as if we were old friends continuing our conversation. Today, I am celebrating my decision to start writing this blog.

I started this blog, about a year ago, in August of 2011 and I failed to celebrate that one year anniversary until today. During the past year, I’ve written on several subjects, mostly New Thought and the power of prayer but also on women’s lives, entertaining books, and political issues. It’s been great fun.

The subscriber base has grown from two (my daughter and niece) to 169. Since my Sunday service attendance never climbed anywhere near that number, I am glad to have such a wide audience. Of course, the Sunday service lasted an hour and this blog only takes five minutes or less to read. Plus- you can read this in your p.j.’s.

It is probably safe to assume that most of the blog readers are from New Thought churches although a few of the comments I receive these days seem to be from people who were wandering around the internet and found me.

Some of you read the blog regularly but you are not subscribed. I know this because, when you comment on something I’ve written and I ask if you are subscribed, you say you don’t know how to.

Here is the way to subscribe. Find the box under my photo in the top right hand corner. Put your email address in the blank box just below it. Once you subscribe, the blogs will come to you automatically until you stop your subscription. By the way, I don’t know your names since all I get is a numerical count.

I love it when you subscribe because it raises my numbers. So does hitting the like button.  I especially love it when you comment on the post because that makes the blog a two-way communication and I find out what you are thinking. I’m doing this because you are important to me.

This is article is number 194 so they are accumulating pretty fast. I think that adds up to about 20,000 words which is a small book. In another year, I may actually have enough to start thinking about turning parts of the blog into a book, but not yet.

Recently there are more and more comments on my posts, probably because there are an increasing number of readers. I love the comments and I would like to have even more comments from even more readers. I hope you will begin to share blogs (probably not this one) with your friends if you think they would enjoy it.

I try to post twice a week, usually, on Monday and Thursday. I have skipped a few times and only rerun one article. Up until now, the other posts are based fresh thoughts or events. The stories I use are all true (unless I tell you I made it up). My intention is to be honest, helpful and loving.

You may notice that these blogs start with “issues” or “challenges” a lot of times. Quite often they are my issues or challenges and that is because I want to show that we all have “stuff”. It is also because I want the blog to be an active influence on people’s lives. The last blog was about how we can help people by prayer even if they don’t request it. That was obviously helpful to the two people I talked with yesterday and it also reminded me of what I know.

Like all New Thought teachers, I believe that we live in a spiritual world. There is One God and everything comes from God. Since we have freedom of choice and don’t always know how to use it, some of the stuff in our lives is not exactly God-like.

I believe the One Mind is unlimited possibility, and lives in us, as our personal unlimited possibility. I also believe that life is more complicated that “wishing upon a star” pop-metaphysics tries to make it seem.

There is much that I do not understand and much that I cannot control because, while I come from God, I am not all of God. Life is complicated.

When I was a beginning reader of metaphysics, I didn’t know much of anything and I couldn’t understand much what I thought I knew.

I try to always write for beginners. Mostly, that means avoiding jargon. It also means avoiding abstract ideas unless I can find the simple words or examples to explain them. I want to be accessible to beginners.

My primary attraction to Science of Mind was the ability to create a self-reliant, loving life that was based on integrity. I value my honesty, at least partly because of my years in 12 Step rooms. I simply can’t afford denial and I don’t think it is helpful to others.

I am sharing these facts, ideas, and opinions with you because I know my blog is different from others’ who tend to write in a more prayerful way. I am a practical woman who was attracted to Science of Mind because it was such a practical teaching. It works for me and I love it.

I  heard the Dali Lama once on TV when he said that we should take care of the Earth because that is where we live. That fit right into something I read in Emerson a long time ago about how he attended a church service and the preacher said that sinners had fun now but his people should be good until they got to heaven. Then they could kick up their heels and have fun like the sinners did.

So my blog is different. I think it is practical. It know it is as honest as I can make it. It is also aimed at making things better and having fun here on earth, which is where we live.

I am glad you are reading this and I hope you agree with me. Whether you agree or not, I hope you will comment. I’d also like to hear topic suggestions.

Now, I’d like you to think about your friends who might enjoy these blogs or find them useful. In the next few weeks, will you please pass it along to those people with your love.

And also with my love.

Ask Yourself

How shall I follow up on Dr. Jane’s requests?

Subscribe?

Make comments?

Suggest topics?

Forward the blog?


Treasured Connections

A good friend has been away for three weeks and I was very happy to talk with her this morning. She is a treasure who has been in my life for at least twenty years. A far-away friend is visiting next week; she is a treasure I have known even longer. I consider all my friends – new and longer – true treasures.

I’m not the only one who thinks her friends are treasures. Louisa Mae Alcott said, “A faithful friend is a strong defense; And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.” I have no idea what Louisa Mae was defending herself against with her friendships but I do know how my friends enhance my life in many ways.

Good friends bring me joy. When I am connected at a heart level, I can actually feel joy for their blessings and achievements in life. I can participate in my friend’s delight because her daughter is gets into a good college. Good friends enable me to embrace a wider world.

They also make me stretch and grow. I can be thrilled when my friend’s book makes the bestseller list. Good friends enable me to dilute that grizzly old error of competiveness.

Another blessing that good friends bring me is a window on the world. Often, my friends and I have very different backgrounds, experiences, ages, and histories. I have several friends who grew up in upper middle class families and went to prep school and Ivy League colleges. They help me understand an American experience that is very different from my beginnings.

I also have friends who are immigrants from England, Poland, Canada, Mexico, Peru, China, and Korea. They help me see the United States in its very best light. My treasured friends make me less insular in my world view.

Having friends with very different backgrounds requires me to accept them as they are and not waste time wondering why they aren’t exactly like me. I don’t look for agreement. Like Walt Whitman, I contain multitudes.

I have been blessed with good friends all my adult life. It started in high school when I gave up trying to be “in” with the most popular crowd and began to choose own friends. One of them was a girl of Japanese-American background who had just left an internment camp. She showed me what meticulous ambition could look like and she went on to be head nurse at Presbyterian Hospital. She taught me a lot. When you look back at your early friendships, can you see how they helped you learn new lessons?

Of course, friendships blossom and wane. There were many wonderful people in my past who are no longer on my active friend list. Times change. People move away or die. Interests disappear. It doesn’t mean I treasure them less, just that I don’t see them as often.

When I was a young mother, my best friends and I shared our love for our children and our concern for their growth. I learned from them all – the mothers and the children.

I learned a profound lesson from a friend I didn’t really think was a very good mother. She had a drinking problem and I’m happy to report that she eventually gave up alcohol. After her daughter was grown, she told me that her daughter said, “You don’t need to feel guilty, Mom. You gave me the greatest gift of all – you showed me that people can change.”

We can all change and that is one of life’s greatest lessons. I have made plenty of mistakes over the years and I have leaned on that story. I assuage my guilt by reminding myself of my friend’s experience. Have you learned any profound lessons from your friend’s problems?

Do you have friends that share your dreams? When I was a beginning writer I belonged to a group that met weekly to share their hopes, dreams and writing experiences. They were very, very good friends for several years and then I moved away and I also lost interest in writing young adult books.

I found my some of my strongest, and longest friendships when I got sober. I will always be grateful to my Twelve Step friends. They were there for me when I most needed a friend. My sponsor was such a good friend that I still miss him although he’s been gone for at least eight years. There were many others.  I treasure their memories because they saved me from my very worst self-destructive self. What more could anyone ask of a friend?

Most of my current friendships are people I meet in the ministry. Some are members of my own center. Others are ministers and former ministers I know through the Religious Science organization. We all share an interest in using Science of Mind in our lives. That makes us mutually supportive and lovely to be with. No gossip. No rivalries. No “ain’t it awful” conversation.  My Science of Mind friends help me remember that God is Love.

Actually, all my friends have taught me that God is love, and that life is good. I cannot imagine going through life without good, strong friendships. We all need to be connected to others. We can actually experience the concept of God as love when we are with our friends.

One of the most important things that religion provides is a sense of unity with life. Whether it is sitting on a park bench with other parents watching our toddlers play or holding the hand of our friend who has received bad news, we feel connected when we are with friends. We treasure that feeling of togetherness.

Friends are important. We need to reach out, nurture and consciously grow friendships with others. It is wise to be wise to be pro-active about friendships. I have observed, over the years, that many people feel isolated. When others reach out to them, they say yes, but they don’t always make the initial invitation to friendship.

If you want more friends, you need to put aside any old beliefs and be assertive. Why not make a few overtures yourself?  Why not ask someone to go out for coffee after the meeting? Why not make a phone call to someone you haven’t seen for a while? Why not introduce yourself to the church newcomer? Those are all simple first steps anyone can take.

Ask Yourself
Do I treasure my friends?

Is there an old friend I want to reconnect with?

Is there someone new I’d like to know better?


Following Instructions

The idea that, Dreams Can Come True, a book I wrote in 1981, inspired a woman who is the new host of the Today Show is fun but not really surprising. Spiritual Laws are always working and everything we do has consequences.  We are connected to Life and to each other.

My fifteen seconds of fame on the Today show brought an invitation from Rev. Beverly Molander to be on her internet radio show. You can listen to it by going to http://www.unity.fm/program/AffirmativePrayer .

In preparation, I looked up my books on Google and discovered that many of my teenage romances are still out there. In some cases, you can buy used ones for as little as one cent. I found a new one that was called “collectible” and listed at $118 but I’m not convinced that anyone will buy it.

Dreams Can Come True was one of the first in the Scholastic Wildfire Series and it was my biggest seller. The heroine uses journaling and visualization plus hard work to get what she wants in life. Over the years, I have heard that it inspired many young women. It was lightweight but it was a good read.

The historical ones in the Scholastic Sunfire Series are still the most popular and they deserve to be because they were instructive and well researched. I wrote books set in the Johnstown Flood, Pearl Harbor, Lowell Mills, and a one room school house.

The consistent favorite seems to be Roxanne, which was set in 1930’s Hollywood. My personal favorite is Corey, because the heroine was an escaped slave. It was a breakthrough book because it was the first of the series with a heroine of color. Although it’s simplistic, black history wasn’t as well known in those days.

My search was instructive.  Apparently, some women collect them as though they were Storybook Dolls. It seems over-the-top but at least they are admired. Others criticized them because they were exactly what they were – teenage romances.

I moved on to other things many years ago so while I am happy enough to claim them, I don’t pitch my tent there. For me, that phase of life is over. I am writing other things now, but I am glad that those books were positive and they probably did help some girls because  of their “can do” attitude.

When I wrote them, I was delighted that kids were reading for fun. They actually bought the books with their own money and, as a former reading teacher, I thought that was pretty special.

During that time period, I worked on an adult non-fiction book about successful second marriages. I interviewed about 200 women who had been divorced or widowed and then went on to establish healthy relationships. Although the book was never published, I personally learned two important things I want to share today.

The first was that women who made successful second marriages had the goal of a good marriage in mind when they began the search. This struck me as quite different from my friends and my quest for a “perfect man”.

Most of my friends were women with successful careers who said they wanted to be married but they never seemed to manage their relationships well enough to get there. Our quest  for that one ideal man simply wasn’t working.

The women I interviewed for the book didn’t talk about ideal men but about partnerships. They believed marriage could be a comfortable, normal state. Mostly, they embarked on a sensible search for happiness as a part of a couple.

It may seem like a subtle difference, but I could discern it clearly after those 200 interviews. They were taking more responsibility for their lives than my friends and I were. We might be better educated, but we weren’t as smart about getting what we wanted out of life.

The other discovery turned out to be even more important for me. I learned that books actually do change lives. Time and time again, I heard women tell their sad story and then say, “And then I read such and such book and I did what it said to do.”

The key to changing their lives was that they followed the book’s instructions. It’s fine to read about making friends but if we don’t get out of the house and smile, we will never achieve our goal.

Inspirational books nearly always offer good information but the reader must act on it. There is always that crucial decision to follow instructions. The author cannot jump out of the pages and do it for you.

When the publishing company which gave me the advance for that second marriage book decided not to publish it, I was disappointed. However, I learned two valuable and humbling lessons that changed my life.

Almost immediately, I gave up hunting for that ideal man and chose to seek my personal happiness. So often we think we need a raise, a partner, a weight loss, a new job or whatever to be happy. What we really need is to change our consciousness and decide to be happy right here and now

I read and reread the brilliant book, The Power Of Decision  by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker. I love that book and I have tried (with demonstrable success) to follow his instructions.

I truly appreciated, Dr. Barker’s way of writing. He wrote his paragraphs with topic sentences. The first sentence delivered his thought and the following paragraph backed it up. I began to understand that it all started with decisions. Actions were more important than luck.

Dr. Barker is my mentor because he thoroughly understood and communicated this teaching. In my blog and in my books, I try to do the same. Barker and others have convinced me that consciousness always comes first. I try to “embody” or “become” whatever it is that I desire to attract.

Now I am a New Thought writer and I seek to be as clear as I can. My experience as a writer has helped me communicate simply. Science of Mind Skills is a classic in its own right.  You can find it listed on this website.

I learned from others and I followed their advice. Now I only give advice that I can follow myself. I know it is important to be integrity. I know everything I write will return to me in some way. We are always connected in God.

You and I are connected as you read this. I wish you only goodness and light. I hope you find some of what I write useful. I hope you will read a good, inspirational book and follow instructions this week. Have fun!

Ask Yourself  

What do I want?

What do the books that I read say to do?

What am I doing today to achieve my dreams?